tv The Contenders CSPAN December 9, 2011 9:00pm-10:30pm EST
the domestic problems of the day. the problems were very much like today, there are so many similarities with the economy, recession, loss of jobs, people feeling like it was no longer a government by of and for the people, so many similarities. i do think that he felt that george w. bush was not up to the job. and that was one of the reasons that he wanted to run. but back to the question of whether anybody could do it today, maybe somebody like bloomberg, mayor bloomberg, somebody who does have their own money, who could do a similar campaign like him. but he was really uniquely positioned to run at that particular time. a conservative with a populist
touch. and i think what happened to the reform party over the years shows the difficulty in maintaining this kind of a third party movement. yes, teddy roosevelt in 1912 got 27% and 88 electoral voters. then comes ross perot in 1992 and he got no electoral votes. he got almost 20 million votes. popular votes, no electoral votes. >> carolyn, with apologies, i got to -- >> they were the most successful. >> we're at the top of the hour with one hour left to go. and doug, a quick comment. >> one important quick comment. i think the viewers really need to understand this. when we showed the pie charts of ross perot, and he's talking about this deficit and the debt. that could be eric cantor today. but what you also need to know, what makes him a more complex
and different centrist figure, how are we going to make up that money? he says, ross perot, let's tax gasoline. let's put 10 cents a gallon for five years, raise billions to pay that off. the petroleum lobby, oil lobby of texas does not like this idea of taxing gasoline. but if we would have done it back then, the so-called clean -- the sustainable, renewable energy revolution, more people paying more for gas may have triggered that new kind of innovation and of corgs the left is very much likes that. so that pie chart on the one hand it seems like a conservative pie chart. on the other hand, how to pay it is something that the democrats like. and makes perot a true centrist. >> halfway through our two-hour look at the contender, ross perot, of 1992 and 1996 elections. next phone call is from granite false, washington. -- granite falls, washington.
gloria, you're our next guest. >> i loved ross perot. i remember the 1920's. and looking -- i would think that what does ross perot think of all through the political spectrum, down through those years, franklin roosevelt, then all of the presidents. and we come to today, a total insanity. i watched the house of representatives. i watch the senate. and everything has been turned around so that only the -- certain people with a great deal of money it appears are able to turn the elections to their good. so i just -- i just wish that the good, solid, rock solid, senseability of ross perot could do anything to help us today. >> thanks very much, gloria. colleen is up next in rutherford, new jersey. hi, colleen, you're on.
>> hello. i have a really good question. but he just want to make a comment and i'm glad i came after the woman who lived -- the phone call prior. her living in the 1920's. because i was in my early 20's in the 1990's. and ross perot was the equivalent of a ron paul. the young people lotched ross perot. i used to run home and couldn't wait to watch his pie charts. i learned so much from him. and it's almost -- i almost forget bill clinton in those debates. because it really was -- ross perot really was the rock star for the people in their 20's. he had a huge following. i went to go see him in monmouth county but my question is he was very good friends with john mccain. and from what i understand, he lost touch with john mccain, i think when john left his first wife. but he recently called a
reporter from "the new york times" when john mccain was running for president. and i believe that reporter wrote an article, because ross perot made a personal phone call to him. that's my question. do you know anything about his falling out with john mccain? >> well, he was for mitt romney, ross perot, for the republican nomination the last presidential election. not mccain. it's part of that just fueds that ross perot has. we've got to really understand, this is -- mr. perot is not somebody playing right-left politics. he's not what we get on our cable talk show fest and even what's happening in washington, d.c. and so anybody who he thinks is abandoning principles on, for example, doing away with p.a.c.'s or super p.a.c.'s and you can see that the mccain was willing to start compromising on a lot of this integrity and principles. and so perot, you know,
abandoned him at that point. and i also want to say, the side of ross perot is about action. it's whatever it takes to fix the problem. he's not really about talk. i think there's a famous quote that's in their family or one of his favorite things is i don't want to hear about people that say the river is dirty. i want people that are going to clean the river. get out there and do things. and he's -- enigmatic in certain ways. you can't pigeonhole him. he's mercurial. he's a texan that wants strict gun control. and is for pro-environmental protection agency. he's pro-choice. yet, he's tough on issues about corporate -- corporate america and outsourcing of jobs, tough on the war on drugs. you can go around. what you get is sort of an old style can-do american who believes in american exceptionalism but feels we're
lurings our edge. that somehow after world war ii, americans got lazy. and not the everyday working people in america, but we've stopped -- everybody is looking for leisure time and perks instead of kind of fixing the country. the country comes before corporation to ross perot. and i think he's diagnosing in 1992 and 1996 that americans' politics are broken and the financial system is broken. the military is not broken. and he's questioning how do we fix the other two? and he still feels that way today. >> the caller mentioned as a young person in her 20's watching the debates and cheering on mr. perot, and our next set of clips, we're going to do a montage from two of the three debates, presidential debates that happened that year. >> these young people, when they get out of this wonderful university, will have difficulty finding a job. we've got to clean this mess up. leave this country in good shape and pass on the american dream to them. we've got to collect the taxes
to do it. if there's a fairer way, i'm all ears. [laughter] but -- but -- see, let me make it very clear. people don't have the stomach to fix these problems. i think it's a good time to fix it in november. if they do, then they will have heard the harsh reality of what we have to do. i'm not playing lawrence welk music tonight. you have to -- the nafta, $1 an hour, no environmental controls, etc., etc., and you're going to hear a giant sucking sound of jobs being pulled out of this country right at the time when we need the tax base to pay the debt and pay down the interest on the debt and get our house back in order. who can give nelves a 23% pay race -- themselves a 23% pay raise anywhere except congress? who would have 200 airplanes
worth $2 billion to fly around? i don't have a free reserve parking place at national airport, why should my servants? i don't have an indoor tennis court and a place where i can make free tv to send to my constituents to elect me the next time. and i'm paying for all that for those guys. >> ross perot in three moments from the debates in the fall of 1992. and for the incumbent, george h.w. bush, there was a tough moment in those debates. you will recall he was captured looking at his watch. during one of the debates. that became emblematic. we got a photograph of it, his campaign. do you remember that moment? >> of course i remember the moment. and look, george her better walker bush, who had a tough year in 1992, everything was going wrong. that's -- remember when james carville said it's the economy, stupid. and he sort of felt this was getting beneath him. we forget that debates haven't been always there.
1960, we had the kennedy-nixon debates but we didn't have presidential debates all the way until 1976. and there was some feeling particularly where george her better walker bush that debates were a waste of time. that it was all about owning a sound bite and not about building an organization or running the country was about. but it didn't help president bush to be looking -- glancing at his watch in that regard. and i think it cost him in the election. perot and clinton did better in these debates than bush. >> how did ross perot fare in the debates in the eyes of the public? >> well, i thought, you know, i agree with doug that he probably won the debates. and when george bush looked at his watch, it sort of reinforced the idea that people had that he was not really engaged in the campaign. the debates were critical for perot. and when the debates were over,
he had risen back up to maybe 21%. in 1996, he was not in the debates. and it made a big difference. i think he only got maybe 8% in 1996. so i think going back to the question, could anybody else do it today? the problem might be getting on the debates. because now the commission on presidential debates has such stringent requirements. somebody would have to meet a 15% threshold in i think maybe five different polls before they would be allowed to be in the general election deekts. so the debates were very critical for perot, the success that he had. at getting his message out. >> carolyn joining us from dallas who wrote a book about ross perot's 1992 campaign and the people who helped him get
on the ballot in all 50 states. let's take our next call for carolyn and doug. it's from houston, texas. gregory, you're on the air. >> hi. good evening. i had a couple of quick questions. first was besides having the most popular votes since t.r., what similarities do you see with mr. perot and ted yes roosevelt in terms of their views -- teddy roosevelt in terms of their views and out looks and politics? who were some of the role models for ross perot? he seems to have -- he seems to have followed the mantra of william jennings brian, harry s. truman, the buck stops here. >> douglas brinkley has written a biography about teddy roosevelt. you'll take that question. >> when i got to talk to mr. perot he has two evergreen heroes and it's theodore roosevelt and winston churchill. and he takes a lot from them. we forget now that both of them were considered in t.r.'s case a damn cowboy when roosevelt became president, he was just
-- mckinley was assassinated. and the republican party of mark hanna and the old mckinley machine didn't trust t.r. he was considered an iconoclast and individualist and the cowboy notion. ross perot, his father was a cotton broker. but also was a -- broke horses, went to cattle auctions, considered himself a bit of a texas cowboy. and everything about theodore roosevelt is impressed ross perot. and i think gave him courage, if t.r. can do a bull moose party, why can't i run in 1992? and churchill it gout woes saying, anybody who loves -- it goes without saying, anybody who loves grit, winston churchill is your figure and the two people he admires most. in his office a portrait of george washington and talks about the founding fathers. but which founding father ross perot is like, i thought about in today. patrick henry. we always talk about the other founding fathers, the ones who
become president. but this is about the contenders. and how do you have an american revolution woult that figure like patrick henry, an irritant? those are the type of people that ross perot admires. >> next is a call from ron watching us in everett, washington. we're talking about ross perot. hey, ron. >> good evening. and i would like to challenge dr. brinkley a little bit. i think the comparison was t.r., even though perot may have idolized him, is heavily overdrawn. and you mentioned just a few minutes ago that -- if i understood correctly, that perot favored a flat tax. and of course that's the antithesis of progressism. i think t.r. was way out there to the left. and -- in the liberal, progressive tradition and even of course obama this week was -- speaking on the 100th anniversary of a t.r. speech there. and i don't -- even though he may have supported oil tax, i don't think he really was a wilderness warrior the way --
>> nor is he winston churchill. one is not suggesting that. those were his heroes and people -- t.r. is known as -- edward morris and myself, many sided americans, a lot of people see in theodore roosevelt what they want to see in theodore roosevelt. but this ability to -- with t.r. and his love of the navy and wrote the two volume war of 1812 and ross perot a naval academy graduate and can't go to the naval academy and not admire theodore roosevelt, and in the navy and also as i mentioned, the cowboy side of t.r. but no, when you're getting with the bull moose party platform versus ross perot in 1992, there's many, many, many differences and many decades apart. but it's the boy scout part. theodore -- you mentioned ross perot's eagle scout. theodore roosevelt is the original champion of the boy scouts. so it's harkening back to that kind of view of america.
but in politics, great differences and i wouldn't compare him -- the way you're suggesting to t.r. or winston churchill or anybody. it's just -- those are the people he admires and collects books on and likes to read about and have inspired him in the same way henry ford and thomas edison were people that inspired him in business. >> taylorsville, illinois. this is ed. hello. ed, are you there? >> yes. from taylorville, illinois. >> yes, sir. >> i voted for perot in 1992. and i believe that's how clinton got elected and bush didn't seem like he cared whether he got elected or not. >> thanks very much. do you think that ross perot was responsible for the election of bill clinton, carolyn? >> i do. and i think there were two impacts. one is he -- similar to teddy
roosevelt, he split the republican vote. and in that way, roosevelt denied taft a second term. perot split the conservative vote. and denied bush a second term. but he did another thing, i think, by getting in the race, and beating up on bush all along the way, kind of softened him up for clinton to come in and make the kill. so i think it was sort of a two tiered effect there. and i do -- i'm not sure how the campaign would have played out without him. but i certainly think that part. impact of his being in the race was that clinton was elected. >> next call is from rick in memphis, tennessee. hey, rick, you're on the air. >> glad to be here, folks. i'm going to assert that ross perot last time he ran was
exactly what the united states needed. and now there is no question, much stronger, is exactly what the united states needs. and i would like to ask -- i'm not too well on what's going on, why is he not in the 2012 race? and also, why in the world are neither the republican or democratic candidates making a run in ross perot's image? i don't see how anybody running like that could help but win. >> why haven't we heard from ross perot in this cycle? >> i think the time has passed him and he had all of it he wanted in 1992 suspect 1996 and was really sort of a reluctant candidate in 1996. and i think that he's -- he's older now. i just think he's not interested in getting back in the fray. >> and 81 by our calculation.
born in 1930. kalamazoo, michigan. connor, you're on. >> does ross perot have any opinion on jesse ventura? fellow reform party? >> i don't know his opinion of him personally but did not get behind jesse ventura who was a little surprising because ventura being a naval -- navy seal, and of course the reform governor of minnesota, but ross perot didn't really get behind him and his efforts very much. so there's a little bit of a schism there. i think by 1996, ross perot felt like he did what he wanted to do. again, i stress for people, this notion of being an irritant. he was always trying to just make us pay attention to issues. i know when we talked about running, you're talking about win being the white house -- about winning the white house. but ross perot, more than personally becoming president, and probably wouldn't have picked stockdale if that was his sole intention in 1992 was
to remind people of duty, honor, country, old style american values and to grapple with that debt issue which he as a business person, he found repulsive, a bad road for america to take. >> we have referenced several times that ross perot won 19% of the popular vote and no electoral college votes and let's look opt screen over this next telephone call how the incumbent president george h.w. bush and the victor, bill clinton, governor of arkansas, in the final tally and we will listen to judy from ogden, utah. you're on, judy. >> one guy that got us all interested in politics back then. and with the nafta agreement. we used to go to the meetings he had with his helpers and we tore that nafta agreement apart. and we would all take a chapter home and read it and come back and discuss it. and boy, people ought to read that someday and see the fiasco they did on it.
and what i was wondering is can you see anybody around at all in the future that would be anybody like him? thank you. >> thanks very much. we have a question for -- is there anyone in the wings? >> i think they have to come out of the military today. i mean, there is this -- we used to be -- to be president you had a military background. but ross perot is part of that tradition. so maybe somebody out of -- an admiral or general someday will come in and run a third party movement. but i don't see anybody out there that's ready to get -- put skin in the game right now that's taking seriously. buddy romer, he's no ross perot. you got to have i think the money to raem do a third party. and as previously mentioned, it's hard to get into the debates and -- in the way the system is set up today. but america always produces unusual people at key moments. and i'm sure there will be sometime in the future a serious third party candidate. >> americans seem to have something of a flirtation with business people as presidents. but get so far.
for example, ross perot, there was some talk about herman cain being -- earlier this year, also mayor bloomberg was mentioned as a businessman who might solve america's economic issues. we get so far as an electorate with them. and then not all the way to the finish line. can you talk a little bit about the kinds of people americans seem to want as leaders. >> i think that's a wonderful point. we like the idea of somebody who is not part of washington. somebody who is going to do what's right for the country. and not be beholden to the democratic party or the republican party. we elect people from the military or corporate people and somebody who runs a company and knows how to run the government. and yet, once you have to start going on all the tv shows and traveling, and every aspect of your life gets investigated, i don't know how many people that want to run anymore. it's become pretty brutal for -- you basically have to run for two or three years nonstop.
and president obama and i'm sure republican romney or gingrich or whoever it might be have to raise about $1 billion. and it's very off-putting in america and i think we need to really investigate how we can shorten this nonstop running. because the president has very little time. they get elected and are running another election in this country all the time. i don't see how it's helping us. >> that caller mentioned ross perot's involvement in nafta. the north american free trade agreement. which was hallmark of the clinton administration. ross perot got very involved in the debate about that after his unsuccessful bid for the white house. and our next clip is a very well watched debate about nafta with then vice president al gore. again on the "larry king live" program on cnn. >> i didn't interrupt you. >> guys -- >> we got to have a climate in this country where we can
create jobs in the u.s.a. one way that the president and vice president can do for us and they're not. >> i would like to say something about that. that's a direct political threat against anybody who votes for this. >> colin powell -- >> a great soldier and doesn't know anything about business. >> i don't want to sit here and listen to you just take shots at president clinton. >> if we keep shipping our manufacturing jobs across the border and around the world, and deindustrialized our country, we will not be able to defend this great country. and that is a risk we will never take. >> he started off as head of the united we stand and i'm afraid he's going to end up as head of divided we fall. everything that he is worried about will get worse if nafta is defeated. this is an historic opportunity to do that. >> thank you both for this historic evening. >> carolyn barta, body language in that clip from larry king live is really interesting to watch.
we looked at some reporting. and it suggests that support for nafta before that debate was about -- was only about 34%. and after, i'm not sure directly related but after it went up to 57% among the american public. what was the view of how ross perot fared with this issue? >> you know, i really can't say. i don't recall -- i just remember that he had the debate with gore. and i did not realize that he -- that he lost that debate as decisively as you have just said. i thought a lot of people agreed with his position that, you know, the giant sucking sound or the jobs going away. and in fact, i think he's proved to be pressurient about that. that's what's happened. >> next call is from larry in the florida keys. you're on the air, larry. >> hey, how are you doing? i appreciate the opportunity. i just wanted to ask, this t.r. setup, it's not the first.
the national wildlife refuge is down here in the florida keys to protect birds, who were being poached for their feathers. does that ever come up in any of the debates in that year? old but not that old. >> ok. thanks very much. do you recall that conservation issues were very much at the forefront in 1992? >> no. but ross perot as we -- when you hear about that anti-naest is very worried about -- anti-nafta is very worried about the environmental degradation going on in mexico. he was somebody who wanted corporations regulated. as i mentioned earlier, pro-e.p.a. andd caller is talking about theodore roosevelt in florida had protected pelican island, florida off vera beach created our first wildlife refuge and saved part of the ding darling national wildlife refuge so t.r. was very much in bird protection and protecting of
wild florida. i would not put conservation in that way high on ross perot's list. but i put him on the side of being a conservationist. he was simply in that climate in 1992 to be pro-e.p.a. in the way that he was. and in this election, many republicans don't like the e.p.a. and ross perot did because he did feel that companies needed to be regulated. >> in 1994, the g.o.p. had an historic retaking. house of representatives. newt gingrich who is a candidate for president this year around was looked upon as the architect of that and became speaker. house and set the stage for a huge debate over the size of the debt leading to a government shutdown that very much pitted the two men, president clinton and newt gingrich, against one another. how responsible was ross perot's highlighting of the debate issue for those subsequent events? >> that's a good question. i think it was quite important.
i think it started making people worry about the deficit. but again, remember, ross perot is talking about paying for it with a gasoline tax which you don't hear republicans talking about. but it became a big worry of the people by the time of -- throughout the clinton era. and i might also add when we're looking at that famous gore-perot clip, remember, nafta became popular with both democrats and republicans. it was al gore and bill clinton were pro nafta but also george her better walker bush republicans -- herbert walker bush republicans. it was only labor unions were opposed to it. and here you have ross perot probably more right center than left center. deeply opposed to it for the reasons he said. i think the outsourcing of jobs more than anything else is what perot was focused on in the mid 1990's. >> carolyn barta, you told us about this story before but in 1995 ross perot started to
organize the -- what became the reform party. can you tell us a little bit about that effort. and how the reform party took shape. >> well, the people who had worked on the perot campaign in 1992 wanted to remain involved. and for a while, even, were very active as, you know, shadowing their congressmen and sending letters and so forth. so the reform party was organized to try to create a vehicle that would be a stable political influence of third party. and then there was -- in the convention of 1996, perot and dick lamb who had been the governor of colorado indicated an interest in running on the reform party ticket. and perot re-emerged to lead
the ticket. so that probably was the high point for the reform party. after that came jesse ventura was elected governor of minnesota in 1998, i believe. and then 2000, pat buchanan was the nominee, the presidential nominee for the party. and buchanan was a firebrand conservative but also a populist. but he certainly could not motivate the reform party people like perot did. and the party was sort of found -- it initially was established with the same kind of priorities that perot had set in his first campaign. reducing the deficit. term limits. some of these issues that ended
up being in the contract for america. so i think there was definitely an impact. and you saw the republican party co-opt some of those issues. term limits was never passed. but it was part of the contract . gingrich's contract. so i think that -- with buchanan in 2000, the party was struggling to find its core. what was it all about? and a lot of people thought that perot -- i mean, not perot, buchanan, did not really represent them. did not represent their interests very well. and i think what's happened since then, the party really has sort of fizzled. there's still a few state affiliates that are trying to be active, maybe hatch a dozen or so. but their presidential
candidate got a handful of votes the last time around. so i think it just shows us that it's really very hard -- i thought that it was going to be a stable political influence. and that once established, that it would be a challenging party in years to come. but that's not happened. it certainly has just fizzled. and actually, i think sort of re-emerged in the tea party movement. so i think maybe these movements just have a short-term life. >> let's go to galveston, texas. joe is watching. >> yes, hello. >> yes, sir. >> well, you know, first of all, i would like to really, really thank c-span because every now and then people call in and say, you're on one side or you're on the other. but by and large, you're probably the most unbiased
media available. and the greatest asset to being able to understand what's going on in our political situation that we have. and i really appreciate the way -- so many people on from both sides. and i think it's a wonderful, wonderful thing to watch. and ask all these questions. >> thanks for your kind words. do you have a comment about mr. perot? >> i do. first of all, i'm from texas. so we got really, really involved when ross perot was running. and he said so many things that made so much sense. and a lot of people got behind him. and first of all, i don't think that the balanceed budget would have happened had not ross perot been up there, having all those charts and graphs to educate people. and i would like to hear david brinkley's comment on that. and one more comment. and that would be that when they talk about teddy
roosevelt, teddy roosevelt was the one that broke up standard oil in new jersey. and i can't imagine ross perot ever being someone that would condone breaking up a large corporation. teddy roosevelt was in a league of his hone but i would like to hear david's comment. >> it's doug brinkley who is our guest tonight and probably happens to you pretty frequently. >> it does. >> teddy roosevelt seems to have struck a chord. >> president obama talked about the new nationalism. and a couple of things i would like to mention. i'm reflecting on what we've been talking about here. one of the big things to keep in mind with ross perot in 1992 is that you had the soviet union collapse. the cold war ended in 1991. when perot is entering in 1992. the question, there was a lot of jubilation with that. we've been fighting the cold war from harry truman on down, taxpayers had built up this
huge deficit to win the cold war. and the fact that perot was being this sort of irritant in the 1990's, worrying about our -- a deficit and everybody was running up deficits. all over the world. he seemed a little more erratic than anybody -- today, we hear these bites. and he seems prescient on a lot of things. but he was a fly in the ointment of 1992-93 when america was looking -- the buzz word was globalization. and also, political correctness became a great term. well, he wasn't keen on globalization. he was about america first. and he was kind of a curmudgeon in many ways on a lot of issues. so i'm not sure we could have even done this sort of retrospect on mr. perot like we're doing tonight, maybe even a decade ago. it would have seemed a little more of a quirky, offbeat character. but there are those sides to him in his biography. but his central premise of the points he raised are really --
resonate with people right now. and with theodore roosevelt, all -- the point about t.r. is only one. and that's about service to country. that's what t.r. was all about. you don't lie. you tell the truth. you stay loyal to your friends. and the service to the country. and that's that -- it's in the american grain. it's americanism. and that's what spoke to ross perot. not every issue that t.r. took on all this, but it was the character of the man. >> in 1996 the economy was getting pretty row bust. the tech bubble was part of our economic fabric. bill clinton was the incumbent president seeking re-election. the republicans had nominated long-time senator from kansas and senate leader bob dole. and the big difference our guest said was during the fall campaign, ross perot was not permitted to take part in the debates. on the screen right now are the results on election night. 1996 with president clinton achieving 49% of the votes.
379 electoral college votes. bob dole, 169 -- excuse me, 159 electoral college votes so just 40% of the vote. ross perot, zero. and different showing than his four years earlier. just over 8% of the popular vote in 1996 elections. our next clip is ross perot on election night, 1996, talking about the future of the reform party. >> we're going to keep the pressure on, on the major issues. i think they've gotten the word on campaign finance reform. don't you? [cheers and applause] navy repented and been reborn -- they've repented and been reborn and they will go to heaven and it's done. but that's got to stop. we have got to get that done. and we have got to get campaign reform in terms of the time for
campaign and all that done. we must set the highest ethical and moral standards for the people who serve in our government. and all that has got to be changed from rules to laws in the next four years. and we're going to have to stand at the gate and keep the pressure on. and we will. [cheers] we will not let our children and grandchildren pay an 82% tax rate which he our government forecast they will. we have got to have a balanced budget amendment. we've got to have the plan to balance the budget. and all the things that you have fought so hard and so long for. and we've got to stand at the gate to make sure that happens. if we want to pass on a better, stronger country to our children. we will make the 21st century the best in our country's history. but you and i have to stay on watch. we have to keep the pressure on. and as i've said a thousand
times to both parties, when they say what does it take to make all of you people go away? and that is do all of this, and then we don't have anything to talk about, right? it's done. thank you. you've worked night and day. you've done a tremendous job. take a little break. and then we'll climb back in the ring and keep the pressure on to see that everybody keeps those promises, right? [cheers] >> ross perot on election night in 1996. doug brinkley, he talked about the need for the people to keep the pressure on. but without a galvanizing figure, you often pointed out to us the truth is our national debt is three times what it was when ross perot was talking about it in 1992. what happened to the spirit and the energy of the people in that middle who were the perot ites or reform party members? >> they're out there. i think they're called swing voters right now. i think many of them are
independents. we have a lot of people that are independent. and many people that don't really want to be associated with the democratic or republican party. and perot's legacy speaks to that. at the outset of the program, you mentioned occupation wall street. people protesting on the left and tea party on the right. and it's about grassroots people getting engaged, getting involved. making themselves heard. so it's just not a group of money people kind of running our democracy. there's a spirit to ross perot. i've never been convinced he was dead serious about winning the white house in 1992 or 1996. i feel what he was trying to do which many of these contenders have tried to do, some of the ones that weren't -- just to stir things up. to get people to talk about issues. and he succeeded in that regard. you didn't have to win the white house to make a difference. it's about getting into the arena. and he took -- got beat up some. but he picked himself back up. and today, he's probably the first citizen of dallas with
his business interests. and he created -- just recently, sold dell, not recently, a few years back, for a fortune. some of his business innovations. and if you can't be in dallas without being touched by his philanthropy. and you can't be a veteran of american wars and not have a debt to ross perot, too. so he's made a difference. and that's why he was sent the walking stick of bin laden or the navy seals. >> robert, you're on. good evening. >> yes. thank you for c-span. i remember the 1992 election well. and ross perot, he was a viable candidate. he was prescient on the deficit. he seemed to speak common sense. he was a patriot. he went to the nflpa academy -- to the naval academy. but he was unelectable because he was mercurial and started a
company, e.d.s. that benefited from government contracts. he selected james stockdale for his vice president. and that debate was a gunfight and his candidate was not prepared for that. he dropped out. race, claiming dirty tricks by the republicans and re-entered the race. he had previously opposed mya lindh for the vietnam war memorial and did it in a relatively nasty way. you say he wasn't a candidate who wasn't trying to win but i don't think he could have won. what do you think? >> i agree with that. i'm not sure it was possible to win. in 1992 or 1996 against bill clinton and the democrats and an incumbent president who had just won the gulf war and saw the breakup of the soviet union, german reunification and many other policy issues. so he was as i've said a few times now, somebody trying to raise consciousness level on
issues that he thought were important for the country. and the reason he's important to history is some of those issues that he raised in 1992 are still with us today. and only in a more -- more of a fashion than 1992. look at things william jennings bryan said that happened in the new deal or something that charles evan hughes that reflects on the eisenhower era. perot raised some issues we are still grappling with and always a reminder that we have a third party option. that maybe sometime that if these other parties get too arrogant, there will be some voice from the heartland or of america that comes up and strikes a different chord. and i worry that the debates make it very hard for a third party candidate to get into the mix. so perot in that regard may be one of the last to have been able to pull that -- something like that off. >> carolyn barta mentioned ross perot in the summer of 1992 had
hired ed rollins and hamilton jordan to be involved in his campaign. after the 1992 election, ed rollins who continued to -- in his political work, and is still active today, talks a bit about his view of the perot candidacy. we have a clip of that right now. >> the bottom line, it wasn't that perot was difficult to deal with. it was that perot never wanted to run that kind of a campaign. he always wanted to do what he did, run the last 30 days. and i think the -- that's all he thought he had to do. why should i waste all my money early when it really doesn't matter until the end? he never understood getting defined in a negative way during the summer. obviously the guy has a lot of paranoia. they always say about paranoia you only have to be right once to make it all worthwhile. [laughter] but the bottom line is it just -- he dent understand the political system.
-- didn't understand the political system. had a disdain for it. that made it more and more difficult. when we were trying to argue what you had to do to -- deal with the media and lay out your issues and define yourself, he saw that as traditional politics and he was against traditional politics. well, in the end, he ran a very short-lived traditional campaign in which he ended up getting very negative in the end. and won 19% of the vote. if he would have run a real campaign, there was a very serious chance of this man being a very viable candidate for president. drawing an awful lot of support from both george bush and bill clinton. >> carolyn barta, you hear ed rollins' analysis after the fact. anything there that you agree or disagree with in his summation? >> well, yeah. i think that at one point, perot was a very viable candidate.
but i think that he was as the caller said before, he was quirky. he was mercurial. and as people got to know more about him, that they were -- they questioned whether or not he was temperamently suited to be in the white house. and i'm not sure even that perot thought that he was suited to be in the white house. and perhaps the sentiment that's been expressed that he didn't really want to be president, he wanted to stir up the american people, he wanted to be the nation's civics teacher. he wanted to make democracy work again for the people. so i think that he resisted traditional politics in many ways. and for good reason. he thought that the way that political campaigns are run
today are really silly. i mean, flying around from place to place trying to get a sound bite on network tv. a plane of press following you around. essentially in a bubble. listening to the same speech over and over again. what are they going to learn? he thought that the press should be out talking to the people. what are their concerns of the people? and then how are the candidates addressing those concerns? so i think rollins wanted to run a traditional campaign. perot didn't want to run a traditional campaign and for a good reason in his mind. he thought traditional campaigns are out of date and are not working for the american people. and i must say, i think that we've seen in election campaigns since then, that the media has just grown more and more powerful and dominant.
in some of the campaigns. >> doug, as care len is talking, i was just -- carolyn is talking, i was just thinking about perotisms and his catch phrases in the age of twitter. >> gosh, yes. that's true. he would have probably been able to use twitter quite well. because that's -- he wanted to get words out there, ideas out there to the people. and we've talked about tonight, is innovating in the format or going on larry king, larry king was free media. and many politicians use that but buying these -- and keep in mind, he's -- it's hard to create another ross perot. he's just a maverick. he's an iconoclastic candidate and a billionaire and had the money to do what he did. and he would have enjoyed being president and would have served the people well but i don't think his heart was in it in 1992 or 1996. it was really about getting the
democracy and the people back -- he -- his core, he disdains lobbyists. and washington is a town filled with lobbyists. >> ross perot not only took advantage of paid media, but benefited from the popular culture coverage of his campaign. next is a series of clips from "saturday night live" whose regular program on saturday nights took great advantage. ross perot candidacy in 1992. let's take a look. >> and because we at abc feel it is important for you to hear his views, and ross perot is with us from houston. mr. perot, do you feel that you have been blackballed by the two major political parties? >> it's like this. the other two candidates, they are not addressing the issues. >> thank you, mr. perot. >> my reform party is going to have a convention and volunteers want me, that's fine. but see, larry, this is not
about me. it's about the american people plain and simple. >> ross, what about this commercial that aired last week? >> vote for me. i'm ross perot. i'm running for president. vote for me, please. would you vote for me? please, please, please, vote for me. [applause] >> this whole thing fascinates me, really. see, you don't have to be a ph.d. at harvard to know that our kids are going to to inherit a $4 trillion deficit. and that's just a crime, see. now, if i'm president, we start cleaning up this mess on day one. it's going to take some sacrifice, no doubt about it. but i know the american people are ready and prepared, this is
your country, let's take it back. >> a clip from saturday night live in 1992 and 1996 and all but the first was dana carvey portraying ross perot. we have about 10 minutes left in our contenders discussion of ross perot and his 1992 and 1996 bids for the white house. let's take our next phone call for our two guests. from pleasantville, new york. tony, you're on the air. >> hi. good evening, susan, how are you? >> great, thanks. >> when ross perot in the spring of 1992, when ross perot was at about 32%, they had -- there were three books written about ross perot before most people even knew him. one was you mentioned wings of eagles. there was an autobiography by a dallas news reporter called ross perot and the best of the three at the time was doron leven's book irreconcilable differences, ross perot versus general motors. in may as i said, in may, after
he had announced when he was at 32%, i watched sam donaldson on "this week with david brinkley" make a statement about ross perot, the conversation around the roundtable was basically this guy is at 32%. do you think he can win? and donaldson made a statement something to the effect of what do we know about this guy? he came out of nowhere. now, at that time, the three books were in print already. donaldson noted for being a big mouth covering the white house, making probably $500,000 a year to make a statement like that about ross perot, had not even read the books, probably, to make a statement. mr. brinkley, what do you think about and ms. barta, what do you think about abc news allowing sam donaldson to make a statement like that and not following it up? >> well, there's also -- i believe ken gross on perot, if anybody watching wants to read a real fine book, he was a new york journalist and it's an excellent book on perot.
i don't know the moment you're talking about. sam donaldson i thought was a great and exciting commentator. certainly during the reagan years, he was always sticking the questions to president reagan. and they ended up becoming great friends. he's really a journalistic legend, sam donaldson. so i wouldn't want to say anything negative about him and i can't see the context of what you're talking about. but the spirit of it is i understand, and you're making a good point. sometimes the washington media people think that nobody is accomplished at their -- if they're not part of a kind of new york-washington-boston axis. and here's ross perot, a legend at that time, and in texas, which everybody in texas knew quite a bit about. because he had worked on education reform and most well-known person in the state of texas. so it just seems to be donaldson -- the spirit of it is what you're saying.
just screwed up. >> carry lynn barta, from 19 -- carolyn barta, from 1996 after he lost the second time how involved was ross perot? did he exit from the national stage or did he stay involved? >> pretty much exited, i think. he was not -- not particularly involved in issues or in the reform party after that. i think -- 1992 was really the unique time. because of the -- the sense of alienation that people had with government. the dissatisfaction with government. the economic problems. and then 1996, as you said earlier, when things started to come back, the political climate didn't exist anymore. and he did not -- he wanted the people to stay active. and involved. but the climate didn't exist
for the kind of perot phenomenon to happen again as it did in 1992. and i think that was sort of his swan song. he got out after that. >> sacramento, hello, to jason as we talk about ross perot. you're on. >> yeah. i just want to ask, how do you feel perot would do in the 2013 election currently if he was on the same wavelength that he was on in 1992? and another question, if you don't mind, was i believe it was -- we said 19% of the vote in 1992 or something. >> that's right. >> i recall it being in the millions. i forget the number. but i know it wasn't too far behind for a third party. it was a -- there you go. my question is how is it possible that he didn't win one electoral vote? i know it's how electoral process works. but i find it just amazing that not one vote, not one state, he had the majority in, not even a
small state. just amazing to me with the numbers that he has. just very shocking and shocking in 1992 when i voted for him and it was shocking to look at the numbers again now. >> jason, your first question about how he would do in the 2012 election, mr. perot is in his early 80's. are you seriously interested in bringing him back into the process at this point? >> thank you. of course not now. but if it were 20 years later when he actually was -- if he was the same as 1992. how would he do now? >> if can you take ross perot of that period and drop him into our current time frame, how would he do? >> he came in second in 1992 in utah and maine. did not win a state. and it just tells you that is where his support was. this was -- very hard for a third party candidate to track against a democratic party and the apparatus and when you have -- at any given time, half of congress and half of the senate on your side and analysts there were really ultimately a
two-party system. once in a while, a third party movement comes in there and it's a slap in the face to the other two parties. the seminal question which we can't answer that historians can debate but we'll never have a definitive answer is who did perot help and hurt in 1992? if he had not run, could george herbert walker bush beat bill clinton? did he actually serve as a spoiler for president bush? or as some people suggest his support came from liberals and conservatives and it was a wash. in a way, that 19% wasn't that relevant. because he drew -- he was so center oriented in many ways. radically center if you like but took from both right and left. and we can't really clearly answer that question. but most people would say he hurt george herbert walker bush. that he was more conservative perot, he came from texas and that challenge hurt bush a lot. because he was the incumbent.
so bill clinton was helped by perot in 1992. >> some analysis of the numbers of supporters suggest that 70% of the perot voters had voted for george bush in 1998. >> 1988. 1988. excuse me. we have a couple of minutes left. to the second caller, the caller's second question. i want to pay a clip and this is our last one of the evening. this is one from ross perot's infomercials that he purchased before the 1992 election. and the 30-minute commercial in october, the first one he did, october of 1992, and he looks ahead from 1992 to the year 2020. let's listen. >> let's look at the growth of federal spending and see if there's a trend here. go on to 1950, there's obviously a trend here. we've gone up to 25% of our gross national product. that's excessive. and hold on to your hat. if you and i don't aaction now as owners of this country, the
forecast shows that by the year 2020, federal spending will be 41% of the gross national product. we can't take 25%. we certainly can't take 41%. it's like having willie sutton in charge of the bank, folks. he was a famous bank robber and i asked him, why do you rob banks? and willie said because that's where the money is. well, our bank is being looted big time and we'll get down to how in a little bit. >> ross perot in his 1992 campaign. we have 30 seconds, doug brinkley, what was the ross perot candidacy all about? >> when i saw that pie chart, remember, preinternet even. preemailing. when clinton became president in 1993 nobody used email by the time he left office three billion emails going around the world and an antiquated moment. ross perot made a difference and reminded people of old fashioned american values and reinvigorated the notion that a third party candidate can get
into the mix. rausm nader made a difference -- ralph nader made a difference in 2000. he's a legend in the third party movement and just i think a person who is part of the contenders. >> carolyn barta, last 30 seconds, did ross perot make a difference? >> oh, absolutely. i think he was a wake-up call. he put issues on the agenda. and the deficit ended up being a surplus. deficit ended up being a surplus. the melon -- budget was balanced. and now the key party people think we need another wake-up call. he definitely had an impact. >> as we close out our series, thank you to be executive producer of this series and our guiding light for all 14 of these programs and to richard norton smith who has been our consultant in this project and
[captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> this is the last installment of our series the contenders. you can see tonight's program again tonight at 11:00 eastern time. next friday, we will review this series with tears -- historians to see what they have lard. you can find a schedule of the series on-line, biographies, appraisals and speeches at c- span.org. tomorrow on washington journal, a discussion about europe with pedro da costa. later, kateri callahan on the
tax credit of op to $500 of energy-saving improvements. that is at 7:00 a.m. on c-span. >> why could the congress fund cameras in the supreme court with the mandate they be installed? >> they could have a provision to find them but mandating baby yews intrudes into the judicial power of the -- mandating a them in trees onto the judicial power of the court. >> a subcommittee met to discuss televising the supreme court. finding a hearing on line and the c-span video library. you can learn more with our web
page devoted to cameras in the court. see articles from across the country and what the justices have said. you'll also find a link to youtube with videos of members of congress talking about cameras in the court. >> now a discussion about a cover story on some of the controversies of barack obama with remarks from the author jonathan and other speakers on the energy department's loan solyndra and the financial regulation laws. this portion is almost an hour. >> thank you for coming. thank you to the center for american progress for hosting this. we appreciate of the venue and the partnership. i am the editor in chief of the washington monthly.
the point of this gathering is to talk about something we have not had very much out recently, that is a political scandal. anyone who has been in this town knows what this feels like. it has been a slam pickings in recent years. the dartmouth political scientist, one of the few who has studied political scandal, wrote a paper saying that if you measure scandal by whether reporters use the word scandal in their coverage, barack obama would have gone a long list of any president in recent memory without a scandal. that would have been november.
he is one month further along than any president. the further -- previous president was george w. bush. other things have happened, so president obama has now gone longer with birther questions, uproars over policy czars, but even solyndra has fizzled without the mainstream press evoking "the s word." i was talking to my friend, jonathan alter, about this and some series. -- he had some theories. at the end of it, he had a long and brilliant piece of theories on the scandal machine in washington and how barack obama seems to have avoided getting caught in the gears. that became the cover story on the latest issue of "washington
monthly." and that is what we are here to talk about. in fairness, really big scandals tend to be in the second term. think of watergate, iran contra, lewinsky. was presidents have been dogged by scandals in their reelection campaigns. carter had bert lance. ronald reagan had the james watt in 1983, the epa super fund scandals that led to the conviction of lying in congress by one of his epa people. right before the election, george h. w. bush lost his chief of staff in a moderate scandal and was still being dogged by iran contra questions. clinton had half a dozen from
white water to illegal chinese fund-raisers and so forth. george w. bush hit a record. before his reelection campaign, he had the valerie plane outing, secretary tom wight and enron, the energy task force, the coalition for provisional authority losing hundreds of billions in cash. the national guard awol scandal about his duty. when you think of that, though there is still time for barack obama to be hit, he will be going into this reelection as the first president without a
scandal if that fast and furious does not take off for something. all of these won reelection are sizable enough margin that it is really hard to argue that the scandal had much of a difference, but this election, which prognosticators are likely to say will be very close, if someone like newt gingrich is his opponent and barack obama winds up still unscathed by the scandal, it could be something that matters. we think it is an important subject and we are glad to hear. let me introduce the panel. jonathan alter, a contributing editor for "washington monthly," "bloomberg view," and
an author of "the promise: president obama year 1," "between the lines, views inside american politics." that is a collection of his columns from "newsweek." faiz shakir is from center for american progress and works for thinkprogress.org. he was a legislative aide to senator bob gramm. it is a communications aide at the white house and is a co author of howard deans prescription for real health care reform and has appeared on
numerous programs. without further ado,, to turn the focus over to jon. give us a synopsis of what you found when you delved into the question of why has barack obama avoided the scandal machine. >> thank you, paul. thank you to the center of american progress and "washington monthly," which is where i got my start in journalism. he is from working on his column right now, but anyone out there in c-span-land, you want to check out the "washington monthly." it helps to understand how government really works. i undertook this as a way of puzzling through a question that does not have a definitive answer.
i do not think we can say there is any one simple reason why obama has not been afflicted by a bad scandal. scandal is in the eye of the beholder. after i wrote that piece, got a lot of letters from angry republicans about solyndra and fast and furious. they have not reached critical mass. you do not have people, like when i was in th 7th grade, watching the watergate hearings. that is not happening with issa's hearings on fast and furious. it is not there yet as a grade a scandal. the question is why. i have, what the academics call, a multi-causal approach. it is a pattern of theory. generally it has to move into
territory. after the checkers speech, we all thought nixon was sketchy. there were these criminals around him and a hint of scandal, it took awhile for watergate to ignite. it fell in fertile soil. we had a perception of ronald reagan as being a little bit out of it. he was not terribly attentive to the details.
when it turned out that there was an office shop being run without any congressional white house and all come it fit what we thought we knew about reagan. the same thing has been true about other presidents. when the sex scandal came along, we already had the jennifer powers thing in the campaign, so we know that there was a pretty good chance that the allegations about clinton would be true. with barack obama, there was no pattern of behavior that a scandal would easily fit into. to give you an example, it came out about his mother that he had not been telling the whole story about her cancer. during the campaign, he used his mother's experience with cancer as a reason for why we should have health care reform. she was denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. not true. she had some problems with her insurance company over a
disability claim that relator for being disabled by her cancer, but the basic treatment was covered. when that came out, it really did not become a big deal. why? there was no pattern for behavior. he did not have a reputation for telling tall tales. he got away with it. the second theory, the news climate theory, if there is a lot of other big news, it is much harder for a scandal to get traction. one reason clinton kept getting hit with scandal was that we were in the middle of peace and prosperity. a scandal was a luxury. when you're trying to fight off a depression and americans are really suffering in there is really is going on everyday at home and abroad, the arabs during, the arab spring, killing bin laden, it's a zero sum game.
and there's a lot of other news scandals, there's less of a chance to make an impact. the third one is the ethical tone theory, the town that obama set from the time he came in, no lobbyists in government, signed a very strong executive at orders. he was very intolerant of any kind of ethical issues. there were a number of people who have been thrown under the bus because obama did not want it to turn into anything. it found out there was a woman with a lien on her property.it was a silly thing. this is completely and
substantive. they did not care. timothy geithner survived his past problems, so there were exceptions. the deputy secretary of defense was hired even though he had been a lobbyist, but by and large it tried to really set an ethical tone. the flip side of having a squeaky clean administration is that you will get a more cautious less innovative, less creative cabinet. it was the usual suspects from washington who got jobs because
they're very careful to know what you had to do to not get caught up. -- caught up in vetting. when you have the family man theory, the biggest ones are always the sex scandals. they denied very quickly. -- ignite very quickly. obama with an intern? not really likely. the first lady would kill him and covered up, look fabulous of the funeral, and no one would be none the wiser. [laughter] this is not something that will be a part of this administration, as far as we can tell. over the type of oversight -- top oversight theory. if i were prioritizing, this would be my number one. oversight, which is an incredibly important function, it is now turbocharged and politicized, so darrell issa
hearings will always be seen as partisan. the only way you will get the fuel for a real scandal is if it is seen as bipartisan. fox, media matters. the mainstream more neutral press, it is when they pick it up that they get credibility as a scandal. that will not happen if you have oversight about getting the president than getting the truth. then you will not have a cab driver pulling over to listen. this is working to tamper down on scandal coverage.
the mark them as political attacks. distracted reporter theory. lot of people like me are too busy doing other things to do a lot of the hard digging necessary for some of these scandals. i am not an investigative reporter. i would be writing columns, not investigative pieces, but there are fewer michael's, my calling that now works for nbc, but there are not many great reporters who dedicate their career to investigative reporting. are not nearly as many as you
think. i do think that the idea that when investigative reporting takes place, being seen as politicized as one of the real keys here. disinterested reporting is moving off stage, unfortunately. returning to what we had in europe or at the dawn of the american public, basically a party press system. c-span is one of the great exceptions where many news organizations are now seen the as being affiliated with one side or the other and that has a way of discrediting your scandal reporting. finally, there is the obama paradox. you can run a clean your administration, but it may be
less effective. if you were johnson, nixon, you're not as worried about process and keeping everything so clean then being more focused on results. if you few are obama, you want to make sure you have as ethical and administration as possible. there will be a certain price that he will pay for it, you're going to get fewer swashbuckling fewer personalities driving the process. a lot of the times, they come with baggage. hopefully that will give people some food for thought during our q&a. >> thanks, jon. i had not thought of it, but famously the late richard holbrooke, who defined swashbuckling, driver of policies, infamously did not
get along. is widely thought that he just did not like his style. and it undercut him the days before his death. >> he was my colleague at "newsweek" for quite a long time. this was one of the last piece is that i didn't for them about how they tried to fire him, holbrooke, because they did not treat him right. he was a a great public servant. holbrooke himself was not corrupt, but those big personalities a lot of the time are born to run into more trouble and there are not a lot of them. >> faiz, you have had a bird's- eye view of the daily ticktock
of attempted scandal from the bush years to the obama years. tell me how you have seen the machinery of scandal involved and whether you think there's something happening bubbling up in the committees that might come in the next six-eight months, come back and be on the front page of the papers for obama. what was it like in the bush years versus now? >> thank you for the question. first of all, i want to promise this by saying that jonathen hit on a kernel of truth here, that the right has mischaracterized it frequently. this conversation is probably confusing to many conservatives
because they understand president obama to be a scandal as president. i just went digging through because i know there are a few commentators on the right who have authored books specifically devoted to this. "culture of corruption, obama and his team of cronies." "an indictment of president obama." "gang intergovernment, obama and the new washington thugocracy." "where is the birth certificate, the case that obama is not fit to be president." is not for lack of effort that they have not been trying to manufacture and a picture of him as a scandal-prone president. it is not something that are progressive allies have thought
about. you are correct, and the theory is that president obama has had a largely clean presidency which leads me to my second point. it's like the bar has changed. we are so avarice in looking for the scandal because of our great witness to scandals in the bush should ministration. -- bush administration. i thought i would try to go through and a list some of the ones that popped in my mind. you'll probably remember more than i even remember, but pre- war iraq intelligence. one of the first thing that pops into my head about a scandal is a cover up. it suggests that bad deeds were done.
because you know that they are done, you therefore have to cover it up. a cover-up is an important aspect, i think, of scandals. pre-war iraq intelligence is one of the biggest moral sins. the firing of u.s. attorneys. the wire tapping scandals to visit ashcroft at his deathbed. waterboarding torture documents. pre-9/11 daily briefing. the colonization of the agency's leading to the firing or resignation of the gsa head. jack abramoff in the department of the interior which led to some departures there.
there is actually a scandal about cheney having alcohol when he shot someone. we learned later that he had. maybe a beer, maybe two, who knows. the council on environmental quality doctored climate report to soften climate change. these are the ones that i could think of, and i am sure there are more. then you add in the incompetency is, halliburton, hurricane katrina, the financial collapse. it is important to separate them because the and competencies' of -- the incompentencies of government are ever present in that is what we're talking about in the obama years. when you look at solyndra and fast and furious, the two leading scandals of the obama administration, what i observed are two things.
there is some measure of incompetency, misjudgment that has been made in the governmental bureaucracy. average partisans are trying to apportion some kind of blame to obama himself in a way to political tarnishes the image. from my perspective, both of them started within the bush years, but the solyndra loan guarantee program began in 2007 in the bush years. and fast and furious, that began, again, in the bush years. this is not to blame him, but suggested as far more nuanced than what went on there and it than what went on there and it is not just a matter, like i